Going Off Script By Lisa M. Cliff
As many of you already know, my name is Lisa M. Cliff, artist, truth seeker and proud owner of my own paint party business, The Painted Pearl. We offer fun art instruction in a fun social setting. The art instruction is what I use to fuel my real passion, my fine art which is called "Blind Faith Fine Art," for we walk by faith not by sight.
I am so inspired by women and women's issues and the Woman's Fund of Central OH featured a really wonderful blog by writer, Amy Taylor about "Going Off Script" after I read her article, I then started thinking about my own journey and when I decided to "Go Off Script." This is my story too, you see "going off script," "taking a leap of faith," " following my heart, these are all familiar affirmations for me, not just empty slogans. For me these are well thought out humble beginnings of strategic action plans that have changed the trajectory of my life.
This is how I have officially gone of script. Up until 4 years ago, I was a VP of sales for a Columbus, based company Glory Foods. For all intents and purposes, I was successful and respected in my field and in the prime of my career. I had the big house, the big title and the big car and traveled all over the country, however, I did I not feel happy or fulfilled. In fact, at times I felt like an impostor. After 20 years of helping to grow the company from a small fledgling to a full blown flourishing company in the grocery industry , I no longer felt an attachment to it. Having worked side by side the late visionary, Bill Williams who founded the company, and who also became my mentor, I could no longer see the vision. I had successfully helped to birth the baby but as the company grew so did my vision for my own life. I had a deep feeling that the purpose for my life was bigger and that I was meant to do something more. Even as VP I still continued to paint quietly behind the scenes; however, there was something gnawing at the core my very creative soul. After a great deal of self reflection, I determined that I was an artist simply dressed up in VP of sales clothing and for me, the dress no longer fit. I longed to be the artist dressed up in "Leap of Faith clothing, or the artist dressed in the "I'm gonna bust the notion of starving artist" clothing. I was going to have to make some drastic changes to life as I knew it in order to get there. I knew that it would not be easy and that I would have to release past beliefs tied to what I perceived to be symbols of success.
My going off script began with small steps, in fact the good book says "never despise the day of small beginnings, " so I began by simply introducing myself in social settings as, "My name is Lisa Cliff, I am an artist but currently I work for Glory Foods as a VP of Sales." I wanted to have the feeling of saying it out loud and actually owning it; even deeper I felt that I had to proclaim it. "I am artist, hear me roar!" I must say that people's reactions were not what I had expected. I thought they would be so happy for me that I would follow my dream but most were more impressed with the idea of "VP of Sales" which probably kept me lingering in the corporate position even longer. Yes, I admit it. I cared about what people thought; from strangers to my own father, who warned me "don't you leave that good job, that's a good job. " I can hear him imploringly say. He meant well, as did almost everyone else in my life. They wanted me to stay on script -inside the box, coloring only between the lines. For me "Staying on script" would have meant to stay with Glory Foods even after the company was sold; it meant relocating to SC where the new company is based; it meant getting a promotion and collecting my paycheck and bonuses; it meant security and going to work every day until I retire; however,It also meant a miserable existence; living an inauthentic life and not following my own heart. Staying on script meant Not walking by faith and only depending on sight. This was not the life this artist and dreamer had for herself. I wanted the fabulous artist life; to paint and create fearlessly and make a good living at it. I wanted to stand in my courageous and creative truth, blowing the notion of a starving artist out the water. I wanted to create my own version of success. After all, I did it for Glory Foods and I believed I could do it for myself.
One of my favorite book is "The Alchemist" and my favorite line from the book by Paul Coelho is "When you want something, all the universe will conspire to help you achieve it," This was my truth, so I began planning my escape from "Staying on Script" and my journey toward "Going Off Script." A year after I did not accept the promotion with the new company, I was laid off, yep let go, terminated or however you choose to see it, it was wonderfully glorious and terrifying at the same time. This truly was the universe conspiring to help me achieve my dreams. When others would have panicked and jumped back into corporate, I chose the road less traveled; I chose to follow my heart and pursue a life in art.
Going off script for me has meant some sacrifice, and has not been easy; no more great travel, no more great paycheck, in fact I am now in process of downsizing my beautiful great (big) house, however, what I have gained is so much more; I now have a profound self determination and a deeper level of spiritual growth; I am stronger than I ever imagined. which brings me to my second favorite line from "The Alchemist" which has also held true for me, "tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams." Any suffering or loss has been a privilege and I count as lessons learned. I look in the mirror and I know that I have taken my destiny into my own hands, based on my decisions and actions no one else's. Today I do proudly proclaim, yes, I am artist hear me roar!
My dream is now in progress; I paint and create and now, I teach others to paint and create in my own studio, "The Painted Pearl." Going off script for me has also meant discovering so many wonderful things about myself including the realization that my true purpose was not only creating, it has expanded to include the important work of uplifting and empowering women. As I teach in my fun art classes, I also get to speak truth into the lives of women from all backgrounds. The truth that many women forget, we are beautiful and powerful beyond measure. I am so very fortunate that I get to remind women to tap into their inner creativity and while we are painting; we are sharing positive affirmations that encourage and uplift each other. We are sharing precious pearls of wisdom, hence the name, "Painted Pearls." We have only been open for a few short months and have parties every weekend. My brand is slowly but surely growing and gaining momentum but best of all I am now fully dressed in my proper attire, I am a wonderful artist wearing the clothing of this courageously determined and happy creative soul. And that is what I call "Going Off Script, Fabulously."